Tom Brady returns to practice after injury scare, could play Friday

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Tom Brady may play in the Patriots' preseason game on Friday. (John Biever/SI)

Tom Brady had the Patriots and their fans on edge Wednesday, as he exited practice early with a knee injury. But he was back on the field today and may even play Friday in his team's preseason game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to the NFL Network's Albert Breer.

The Patriots were conducting a joint practice with the Buccaneers when offensive tackle Nate Solder, while trying to block Adrian Clayborn, fell back and collided with Brady, who immediately grabbed for his left knee. That's the same knee in which Brady suffered a torn ACL back in 2008.

Brady dodged a bullet this time around. Multiple outlets, including and CBS Boston, reported that an MRI on Brady's knee came back clean Wednesday night, and that the QB was day-to-day. Turns out, Brady did not even need that cautious injury designation.

Brady is five years removed from that infamous ACL tear he suffered at the onset of the 2008 season, when the Chiefs' Bernard Pollard lunged at him on a tackle attempt. That injury occurred in Week 1 of the season, and Brady sat out the remainder of the year.

That memory no doubt was fresh in Brady's mind when he crumpled to the turf Wednesday. Video of Brady's practice mishap surfaced thanks to

Patriots fan Chad Kopcak, who captured it from the stands:

The MMQB's Greg Bedard, on the scene for the Patriots' joint practice with Tampa Bay, provided more details as the situation unfolded:

It goes without saying that an injury to Brady would have been pretty close to a doomsday scenario for the Patriots. They did manage to go 11-5 during that 2008 season, with Matt Cassel at quarterback, though they missed out on the playoffs despite tying for the AFC East title with Miami.

The current backup on the Patriots' roster is Ryan Mallett, the Patriots' third-round pick in the 2011 draft. He's seen only mop-up action during the regular season since joining New England. Also present on the depth chart, of course, is Tim Tebow, who has some experience starting in the NFL. New England has kept him at quarterback, as opposed to moving him to tight end for example, though the early returns have been mixed at best.

GALLERY: The growing list of players who'll miss the 2013 season because of injury